In a nutshell, the film revolves around murder and jazz music, with murderers the prime source of entertainment in the news, and the fame that goes with it. We first catch a glimpse of Vilma Kelly in one of her big production numbers, a number that she usually performs as a duo, but is actually the start of her downfall and the progression of the film. Witnessing her final performance is aspiring singer Roxie Hart, who later on in life, gets thrown into jail after murdering her lover on a fit of anger. There, she reunites with her musical idol, who at first gives her the cold shoulder. Hart's case was taken on by Billy Flynn, the same lawyer handling the Kelly case - and Hart's life turns into a surprise of glitz and glamour when Flynn started to prep her up to the press, garnering her name in papers and soon, the possibility of her living up to her dreams of being a jazz singer may actually become possible.
The plot might have been a bit weak, in terms of probability and progression of events. While events surrounded the entertainment progress of the murders, there weren't enough variable to keep the musical performances and the actual plot connected. The plot wasn't enough to sustain the musical performances, having to thin it out in order to fit the productions right in. While I find that using the production as a means to convey story, it wasn't enough to give substance to the plot.
Throughout the film, the lead characters led stagnant lives - who they were when they were introduced was the same as who they were after the film. While partial credit should go to the constant personality of the characters, there wasn't a bit in them that allows the viewers to sympathize, or to even like them at all. There wasn't character development - and I think in this case, it worked. They weren't meant to be liked or adorned - they knew they lived for stardom and the spotlight and wanted to be there. Not once have they demanded to be treated with dignity and respect - they wanted out of prison and to be famous, hence they did what they had to do. I wonder if there was a tinge of emotion in them, the way they're perceived and received be any different, and if it will have an impact on the film.
The leading actresses, Zeta-Jones and Zellweger were amazing - Zeta Jones in particular. Her performance always had that zest, that if she were singing on actual Broadway, I would definitely see her perform. Zellwegger played such an unlikable character in a charming way that you don't hold permanent grudges against her character. She did look flimsy next to Zeta-Jones in their final performance - I guess it's because she didn't have to bulk up, as she didn't have complicated numbers unlike her co-stars. Richard Gere and John C. Reiley were great as well - I didn't expect Reiley to have his own number, but he's certainly not going to get upstaged. I did want to learn the story of the Hungarian woman though, she played a somewhat pivotal character and we don't even know exactly what she was accused of.
I've read some recent posts about the film and the backlash it has been given, probing me to sit down and actually watch it. I haven't read through said backlash (so feel free to inform me of the general consensus), but so far, Chicago is a great film. It's entertaining, it's lively, it provided great music, boasted from a great cast. It may not be as intricate as Moulin Rouge (a favorite of mine), but it's a gem of its own.
Final Word: Chicago is glitz and glamour - in a good way. Amazing musical performances.
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere
Director: Rob Marshall